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Decommissioning

Although it is imperative that we shut down nuclear plants, they remain dangerous, and expensive even when closed. Radioactive inventories remain present on the site and decommissioning costs have been skyrocketing, presenting the real danger that utilities will not be able to afford to properly shut down and clean up non-operating reactor sites.

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Saturday
May222010

Leaking Sr-90 will increase Vermont Yankee's eventual decommissioning costs

Entergy Nuclear has now admitted that the bone-seeking radioisotope Strontium-90 has been discovered in soil near underground leaking pipes at its Vermont Yankee atomic reactor on the bank of the Connecticut River. Several years ago, Sr-90 was also detected leaking from the high-level radioactive waste storage pool at Entergy Nuclear's Indian Point atomic reactors on the bank of the Hudson River in New York State. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates warns that Sr-90, which is highly soluble in water, can concentrate in bones and cause leukemia, and thus is the most hazardous radioisotope yet discovered leaking into the environment at the 38 year old reactor just across the Connecticut River from New Hampshire, and just several miles upstream from Massachusetts. Gundersen points out that this latest discovery means eventual decommissioning costs will climb yet higher at Vermont Yankee. Entergy Nuclear has contributed nothing to Vermont Yankee's inadequate decommissioning fund since taking over ownership and operations in 2002. Other leaking elements discovered into the site's groundwater and soil include tritium, cobalt-60, cesium-137, manganese-54 and zinc-65. Raymond Shadis of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution is very skeptical that Entergy Nuclear's assurances that all Sr-90 contamination at Vermont Yankee has now been accounted for and cleaned up.

Tuesday
Mar022010

Nuclear industry "comingling" reactor decommissioning funds possibly inflating actual funds on hand for radioactive cleanup

It could be the beginning of the revelation of a giant shell game involving limited liability corporations and the accounting for billions of dollars in decommissioning “trust” fund shortfalls. The nuclear industry is required to adequately accrue and set aside money for the environmental clean-up of shuttered nuclear power plants. But when the bottom fell out of Wall Street market many of the invested decommissioning funds experienced steep losses and have yet to recover. Meanwhile, the final cost of deconstructing and cleaning up after a nuclear power plant is determined to be about as reliable as the cost to build a new one.

Paul Gunter, Director of Beyond Nuclear Reactor Oversight Project,  participated in a meeting with the Commissioners of the NRC on February 23, 2010 along with two representatives from the nuclear industry, a state regulator and an industry consultant on the issue concerning decommissioning fund shortfalls for the massive and costly radioactive cleanup of shuttered nuclear power plants.  The meeting was covered in the Brattleboro Reformer where the embattled Vermont Yankee nuclear power station, now scheduled for closure on March 12, 2012 is presently more than $500,000,000 short in its decommissioning trust fund.  The Beyond Nuclear testimony focused on the uncertain and escalating costs of decommissioning caused by uncontrolled radioactive leaks from buried pipe beneath the reactors.

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